- Anthony Bourdain was a maverick chef who helped change the food industry.
- His death on June 8, 2018, shocked the food world.
- Here are five ways Bourdain changed the way many people eat and think about food.
The name Anthony Bourdain evokes many emotions. From his groundbreaking book “Kitchen Confidential” to his distinctive travel shows to his death by suicide in a French hotel, Bourdain’s life was filled with intrigue, humor, and ultimately, monumental sadness.
Five years after his death, his impact still resonates. Here’s how he helped change the restaurant industry and the way we eat.
1. Don’t eat fish on a Monday
In “Kitchen Confidential,” Bourdain appeared to expose a common money-making ploy in the restaurant business — often at the expense of the customer. It would become one of his most famous rules.
He said fish markets usually got fresh stock on Tuesdays and Thursdays. However, many restaurants would get fish delivered on Fridays for the weekend. That meant diners would be getting five-day-old fish by the time it landed on their table on Mondays.
It’s unclear if his advice affected fish consumption in New York restaurants on Mondays. Bourdain later reversed his stance, telling Insider in 2017 that it was acceptable to go pescatarian at the start of the week: “Eat the damn fish.”
2. Do eat out on a Tuesday
Good often follows bad. And if Mondays were a bit iffy, Tuesday brought redemption, at least according to Bourdain.
He argued that Tuesdays and Thursdays were the best days to eat at a restaurant. Tuesdays were particularly good because, unlike Mondays, ingredients tended to be fresh, and the best chefs were also more likely to have Sundays and Mondays off.
Again, it’s hard to say how many people changed their eating habits based on Bourdain’s recommendations.
3. Try new cuisines
Bourdain made a seamless transition from the page to the small screen, first as the host of “No Reservations” on the Travel Channel, then on “Parts Unknown,” which ran for 12 seasons, between 2013 and 2018, on CNN and won 12 Emmy awards.
Bourdain’s shows inspired a new generation of diners to be more adventurous in their eating habits. Following him to far-flung destinations, viewers were introduced to new and starkly different cuisines — some of which became popular in America.
His 2002 tour of Vietnam, one of his favorite countries to visit, shined a light on pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup.
Soon after, Vietnam became the place to go and pho the thing to eat, Barb Stuckey, a veteran of the food-and-beverage industry, wrote for Forbes.
Vietnamese food is more popular than ever, with a report from The Food Institute calling the US a “hotbed” of Vietnamese cuisine, with 8,000 restaurants across the country.
4. Eat simple, unpretentious foods
Bourdain’s taste in food, much like his rock-star image, was at odds with the fine-dining experience, and he frequently praised simple, down-to-earth restaurants.
In what became one of his most famous TV moments, Bourdain took President Barack Obama to a small, unpretentious restaurant in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam,
These kinds of scenes highlighted not just the level of fame Bourdain reached but also his theory on what makes great food, neatly summarized by the writer and journalist Patrick Radden Keefe as food that’s “earthy, fresh, free from pretense.”
His example encouraged many Americans to seek out good food in more unassuming establishments.
Alan Richman, a critic for GQ, told Keefe that Bourdain “helped create the circumstances in which one of the most widely praised restaurants in New York City is the Spotted Pig,” which he said was “known for its unfussy cheeseburgers.”
“I don’t know anybody who is more a man of the 21st century,” Richman added.
5. Eat on the street
Bourdain was a big fan of street food, and he hoped to pour that passion into creating an ambitious project called Bourdain Market, which aimed to emulate a Singaporean hawker center, or food court, that offered a variety of food and drinks.
While Bourdain’s “Olympic village” of street food never quite materialized, a Singaporean entrepreneur named KF Seetoh took the idea and created Urban Hawker, a 17-stall taste of Singapore in New York City.